I recently upgraded from my Targus tripod that I would consider barely adequate to support anything more then basic tripod supported picture taking (light camera, light lens, no long exposures) to the Manfrotto 055xb. It is a world of difference. The 055xb is rock solid, especially compared to my old tripod. It can handle quite a bit of weight on it. Manfrotto’s specifications for the 055xb are
Maximum height (column extended/retracted): 70.3/54.1″
Minimum height: 2.8″
Folded length: 24″
Load capacity: 15.4lbs
Head mount size: 3/8″
The tripod legs have 3 sections and operate using flip locks which are very convenient and quick to operate. The center column has a built in low angle adaptor as well as legs that can splay up to 88 degrees for very low shots (2.8″ not including tripod head). The legs can be splay at 25, 46, 66 and 88 degrees using easy to operate push buttons at the top of the legs. Two of the three legs also have built in leg warmers, basically foam wrapped from the factory, to keep your hands a bit warmer in cold weather so the tripod doesn’t sap all of the warmth from your hands when you touch it.
I am currently using the 055xb with the Bogen/Manfrotto 486rc2 ballhead which I have reviewed elsewhere. Using this combination is excellent, especially for light and medium weight setups. The heaviest setup I have tried on it is my Sigma 70-210mm f/2.8 + OM-1n + winder 2. The total weight of this setup is about 4.5lbs and it handles it with no troubles. It also accepts my Sigma 400mm f/5.6 + OM-1n + winder 2 without any serious complaints. I’d take a guess, that if you were hard pressed you could maybe manage a 300mm f/2.8 lens on this combination, but that would likely be stretching it. You’d likely at least want a ball head or a gimble head that can support more weight, such as the 488rc2 or even be thinking of something like a Wimberly side kick. I have made a few 1/15s and 1/30s exposures with my 70-210mm f/2.8 at 210mm and they have come out tack sharp. I’ll try to get around to doing some even slower exposures soon and some long exposures with my 400mm lens on the tripod to see just how low I can go.
As you can see height isn’t really an issue with the 055xb with a ball head on top. I am 6’1″ and I have to stoop only the smallest amount to use my camera on the tripod with the legs fully extended and the column collapsed. Its very comfortable to use.